Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Victory! (sorta!)

(Listening to: the Astros game. And weeping.)

You may or may not remember, but a few months ago I made a couple of posts concerning the lost Fiona Apple album, Extraordinary Machine. Now comes the news that the record will indeed finally be released to the general public on October 4.

Now, here's the weird part. The songs I heard back in March were recordings produced by musical genius Jon Brion, whose work as a composer you may know from Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, or I Heart Huckabees. Brion also produced Fiona's masterwork, When the Pawn.... But according to the press release -- which makes no reference to the leaked tracks or the "Free Fiona" campaign -- this album is produced by Mike Elizondo, who's worked mostly in hip-hop, with Dr. Dre and Eminem. (I recognized his name, though, primarily because he played bass and co-wrote a few tracks on Poe's spectacular album Haunted. As it turns out, he also played bass on When the Pawn....)

So, clearly, Madam Apple went back into the studio and rerecorded the whole album. And she clearly decided to do this very recently -- after all, if she was working on it when the big mess happened last winter, someone would have mentioned it to quell the protests, wouldn't they? And I wonder why the very good work with Brion was discarded, though I'm reading that everyone -- Sony, Epic, even Fiona -- was unhappy with the original production. I'll grant that it was certainly bizarre and non-commercial.

I don't know whether the new producer thing is good or bad, and can't know until I hear it. But there's apparently a new track, called "Parting Gift," and any Fiona is generally good Fiona.

Syntho-techno-compu-speak...of the FUTURE!

(Listening to: Dave Matthews Band, Crash)

(No list this week. I was too wiped out on either Saturday or Sunday to write anything coherent; believe me, I tried. I promise one for this week.)

So I've been watching a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000 recently. More specifically, I've watched the episode Overdrawn at the Memory Bank a few times. If you haven't seen this one, you should -- it's easily one of the funniest. And the best part is how much Mike and the 'bots share my loathing for that idiotic "futuristic" dialogue that infects so many bad science fiction screenplays. You know what I mean: suddenly everything has a bizarre hyphenated prefix, like "compu-" or "syntho-", that kind of thing. (And one point in Overdrawn, Tom Servo gets fed up with it and starts angrily mocking it at every possible opportunity -- "Oh, they opened the syntho-flavo-door!" And a man and a woman are shown in bed together, he sings, "And then I sing you off to syntho-sleep after the techno-love....")

The worst part about this crap is how fake it is. Who the hell talks like this? I'll give you an example. If, in 1985, someone had written a screenplay which posited the future appearance of AOL's instant messenger program, allowing distant people to chat through their computers, everyone would have referred to the process as something stupid: "I'm going to compu-speak with Mike tonight." "We were micro-texting about that yesterday."

All this complaining about futuristic dialogue is actually a very roundabout way of plugging Simon of Space, the online novel I've been reading. It takes several thousand years from now, so characters don't speak like we do...but their dialogue still feels natural, not clumsy and stupid. (My favorite is the profanity. The euphemisms we have as curse words are scaled back to the actual words themselves: "shit" is now "faeces;" "fuck" is now "coitus" or "fornicate," depending on the context; and "sucks" is now "fellates." It's hilarious when someone roars, "What is this coital faeces?" in a completely serious context.)

If you're not reading Simon, you should be. Really. It's absolutely brilliant. Go forth and do so now. Though you should probably start at the beginning if you'd like to understand what's going on.

Friday, August 19, 2005

It reminds *me* of something

(Listening to: Rage Against the Machine, Evil Empire)

Have you guys heard the new Audioslave single, "Doesn't Remind Me"? It has to be considered a strong front runner for the 2005 Pants Around Your Feet Award for the hit song with the most idiotic lyrics. (Named, of course, in honor of "Figured You Out," that repugnant Nickelback piece of shit that was a huge hit last year.) Most frustrating is that "Doesn't Remind Me" is almost a really great song -- I like the melody and chord changes an' stuff, and Chris Cornell still has one of the best voices in rock. But...c'mon, the guy who wrote the complex, symbolically rich "The Day I Tried to Live," "Like Suicide," and "Limo Wreck" wrote this?

I like gypsy moths and radio talk
'Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
I like gospel music and canned applause
'Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
I like colorful clothing in the sun
'Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
I like hammering nails, and speaking in tongues
'Cause it doesn't remind me of anything
What the hell does any of that mean? Canned applause? Gypsy moths? Those lyrics are like cigarette smoke: thick, impenetrable, yet completely lacking in substance of any kind. And leaving a foul odor everywhere. They seem to want to mean something, but there's just nothing there. They're like shadow puppets.

My mom had a phrase for songs like this: she called them "toilet songs." The implication being that the singer wrote the lyrics in three minutes while sitting on the toilet, simply jotting down the first thing that came to mind, no matter how insipid. (The first time I remember my mom saying this was in reference to Warrant's "Cherry Pie," which is a toilet song for more than one reason.)

After their lackluster debut, and the first few singles from Out of Exile, I am prepared to hail Audioslave as the most disappointing band since...ever. I mean, Chris Cornell with Rage Against the Machine as his backing band? There was no way this could go wrong, so of course it has. Rage has lost their massive attack energy and turned into an only-slightly-nuanced post-grunge band, while Chris Cornell is either in the midst of a huge artistic decline or a some kind of deliberate pop commerical sellout phase.

Somewhere, Zack de la Rocha is laughing his fucking ass off.

The rest of us have to suffer.

(And hey, how's about this: "Doesn't Remind Me" is being nominated, by me, for an award named after a song by Nickelback. Nickelback, you may remember, achieved substantial success in the modern rock/post-grunge arena with their first hit, "Leader of Men," but became the ubiquitous crossover pop sludge factory they are today thanks to their follow-up album and its worldbusting first single, "How You Remind Me." I have no idea what this means.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

List of the week, 8/14: Music videos

(Listening to: System of a Down, Mezmerize)

Yeah, the original goal was do one of these every Saturday, but it seems that early Sunday morning is more convenient for me. So we'll go with that. We're also changing format a bit these week, as I couldn't think of five truly atrocious videos to make into a list -- we'll go with a top ten, instead.

Dave Matthews Band is going to debut their new video, for "Dreamgirl," on Monday. In honor of that, I give you my ten favorite music videos.

  1. "Just," Radiohead.
  2. A man lies on the sidewalk and won't move. Others ask why. He refuses to tell them. A crowd gathers. He still refuses. They yell and scream. Finally, he reluctantly gives them the answer. But not us: the subtitles that have displayed all the dialogue vanish. And when the man is done, his audience, stunned and horrified, lies beside him. The video is a brilliant little short film that shows how much you can do with the medium, even without big budgets and special celebrity guests.
  3. "Everybody Hurts," R.E.M.
  4. Profound and moving -- it lifts the song to another plateau. And the final images are truly haunting. To this day, whenever I'm stuck in traffic, I visualize Michael Stipe walking on top of the cars. "They just...they just got out and walked!"
  5. "Criminal," Fiona Apple.
  6. Director Mark Romanek has Fiona prance around in her underwear for the camera -- typical music video stuff -- but films it in such a greasy, voyeuristic fashion that one can't help but feel dirty for enjoying it. A wonderful way to toy with the cliches of music video.
  7. "Billie Jean," Michael Jackson.
  8. "Thriller" is the one that gets the press, but this is far better. Sure, it seems pretty dated now, and it's hard to feel sympathy for Michael Jackson, but the video captures his plight with flawless visual metaphors -- alone, dancing through a (fake) street, everything he touches glowing with light, hounded by a evil man taking pictures who just won't leave him alone.
  9. "In Bloom," Nirvana.
  10. Speaking of flawless visual metaphors. Contrasting their image as heroin-using, instrument-smashing hooligans who made angry noise, this clip features Kurt and crew in perfect white suits and performing on what looks like the Ed Sullivan Show, confronted by an adoring, shrieking fanbase they can't understand. And by the end, they're wearing dresses and smashing the stage, but the cheers only grow louder.
  11. "Closer," Nine Inch Nails.
  12. Probably the most disturbing video ever created...and again by director Mark Romanek. A lot of stuff was cut from his one for air; to preserve continuity, Romanek replaced it with silent film-style "scene missing" cards. I've seen both versions, and I actually think it's creepier in the edited version.
  13. "Hurt," Johnny Cash.
  14. Romanek again. An emotionally devasting trip through Cash's psyche as he looked back on his life. Again, a triumph of the artform. (Romanek, by the way, is probably my favorite video director. I don't know if you can tell.)
  15. "Enid," Barenaked Ladies
  16. The early BNL videos, as the band puts it, basically consisted of them "running around and mugging for the camera." Too true, but "Enid" manages to capture the band's manic energy in a way that I love. There's also some creative editing. Okay, I really don't know why I like this one so much.
  17. "I Want Love," Elton John.
  18. So sometimes celebrity guests work out: this one features Robert Downey, Jr., wandering alone in an empty mansion singing along with the song. And that's it -- just one long shot that follows him all throughout the house. The terribly lonely image adds greatly to the song.
  19. "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," Cake
  20. One of the funniest videos I've seen -- it's almost a MST3K-style riffing on the song, as we see a number of random pedestrians listening to the track on headphones and offering their opinions. Some of them like it, some of them don't -- but it's all hilarious.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

St. Anger

(Listening to: Barenaked Ladies, Born on a Pirate Ship)

There was a time in my life -- around 1999, to be specific -- where I would have described myself as "full of rage." I was angry all the time, about everything. School, my friends, my family: all kept a steady stream of fury flowing around my house. Anything and everything pissed me off, and it took great effort not to show that anger to those around me.

There have been other times since then where I've felt that kind of white-hot emotion for sustained periods. (During one of them, I wrote the extremely angry "The Outlet," a rewrite of which is next on my to-do list, after the next episode of Revolver.) And I used that same phrase -- "full of rage" -- to describe my mental condition. I thought it an apt description.

But I had nothing on the Neighbors Downstairs.

Yes, the same ones who were (possibly) behind the theft of my wallet. I said earlier that they fought "all the time," but I'm not sure if you understood me. I mean all the time. They fought yesterday. They fought the night before that. And they're fighting right now.

And calling the police to stop them won't work. It's been tried. They're still here.

What the hell can a small group of people possibly disagree on so fervently -- and so often -- that they argue and scream about it once or twice a day? I mean, my friends and I have our conflicts, too -- some of which are genuine, some of which are created simply to annoy me, and some of which exist only in the paranoid, insecure recesses of my own mind (those are fun) -- but we only rarely have what I would term a fight. And we certainly don't fight every day. I dare say that if we did, we wouldn't be friends. And we certainly wouldn't be living together.

I can only assume alcohol and/or drugs are involved in this mess. It would explain a great many things. But here's the kicker -- the truly weird part of the story, the one I don't understand.

An old man lives in that apartment. He's confined to a wheelchair. If I'm up early enough in the day, I can see him leaving sometimes. We have to make sure not to park in the narrow strip of asphalt he needs to wheel out of his door into the parking lot.

Where is he during all of this COPS-episode-waiting-to-happen stuff? Is he sleeping? Is he hiding? Or does he open those vocal throttles and rage with the rest of them? Perhaps he acts as a referee?

I'd go to bed and forget about it, but I'm too experienced with the pattern for that: the second that happens, somebody go out their back door and the fight continues outside. Directly underneath my window.

Perhaps they need Dr. Phil Towle. Hey, it worked for Metallica.

All within your hands, baby.

Kill kill kill kill kill.

Friday, August 12, 2005

There are no innocent victims

(Listening to: Dave Matthews Band, Live in Chicago 12-19-98)

So I had an odd experience yesterday.

For those who don't already know, my wallet was stolen out of my car on Monday. It was totally my fault -- not only did I leave my wallet in my car (already a stupid thing to do) but I left the door unlocked. These were accidents -- it was gushing rain when I got out of the car, I was carrying food that had to be protected against the harsh elements, and my shoes have huge holes on the bottom, so running in water is bad bad bad -- but I screwed up and paid the price. Frankly, I'm lucky they only took my wallet and not all of my CDs. Or my stereo.

So my wallet was nicked. I lost thirty bucks, a Horizon Games discount card that I'm pretty sure they no longer accept, and my driver's license. This, of course, was the motherfucker -- I went to DPS on Wednesday and replaced it for ten bucks.

I had pretty much written the wallet off, you know? I mean, it's gone.

But yesterday, as I'm leaving for work, I pass the Neighbors Downstairs in the parking lot. The Neighbors Downstairs, for those who don't know, are my sworn enemy here in the land of Southern Pine Forest. They're loud, they're obnoxious, they get into fights constantly, and they always seem to want to do this crap outside in the parking lot so everyone can hear. (And when they're keeping it inside, I can still hear their voices echoing up through the pipes in the bathroom. It's fucked up.)

One of them asks me if I've "lost" my wallet.

I'm unsure of how to respond.

I go with "...Yyyyes...."

He tells me his girlfriend found it. I ask where. He doesn't know. He tells me that she isn't home right now, but he'll get it and get it to me.

When I get home from work last night, he's in the parking lot. He says, "Hey, let's go get your wallet."

But, alas, his girlfriend isn't there -- or she's in the shower, or something. She doesn't answer. He says we'll try again later.

And so it's today. And I'm puzzled.

As I see it, there are three possiblities.

  1. My wallet wasn't stolen, I actually dropped it. I know this to be false, but it is still, technically, possible.
  2. This jackasses stole my wallet, took my money, but have no use for my license (and Horizon Games card) and want to get on my good side by being nice and "finding" it for me.
  3. Someone else stole it, threw it away, and the Neighbors downstairs actually did find it.
Which do you think?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Missing the point entirely

(Listening to: Soundgarden, Badmotorfinger)

"Why is everything here completely pointless?" -- Mike Teavee to Willy Wonka

It's a question I'd like answered.

I saw the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Monday, and holy god what a horrible disaster. The buzz was that the film would be more faithful to the book than the previous adaptation, and it several ways it is -- the squirrels were back as the cause of Veruca's demise, for example, rather than the golden egg machine.

But apparently the copies of the novel Tim Burton and screenwriter John August have are missing the final chapter or two, because they swerve from the original and tack on their own cheesy ending. And believe me when I say this stuff is pulled directly out their ass: Wonka suddenly has big issues with his father, a subplot left unexplored (and unmentioned) in the book. So the entire point of the story -- the bad children being punished for their vices and Charlie getting rewarded for his kind and humble nature -- is thrown into the chocolate river, and instead becomes a lecture about the importance of family, a message which is delivered with surprisingly hamfisted clumsiness.

Now, the story has never been subtle -- even as a kid, I understood the point Dahl was trying to make with his book. But at least his original message was supported by the rest of the story. In the new version, though, the other children who accompany Charlie into serve no purpose other than to fill screen time. Really, you could have deleted those four kids, skipped from Charlie entering the factory right to the last twenty minutes, and the only thing you'd miss would be a lot of awful songs by the Oompa Loompas (Danny Elfman wrote the songs, taking lyrics from the book, but that didn't matter because you couldn't understand a word they said anyway). We also would have missed Depp's odd, awkward performance as Wonka -- certainly not one of the miracles we've come to expect from Cap'n Sparrow. His Wonka -- and the whole movie -- just aren't any fun. At all.

I guess there's another question we need answered: "Why is the rum gone?"

Sunday, August 07, 2005

List of the Week, 8/6: World of Darkness NPCs

(Listening to: The Essential Bob Dylan)

So, I play role-playing games. The table-top RPGs, I mean: you know -- sit around a table, roll some dice, act out imaginary characters. Such behavior is generally shunned by popular society, of course, and you can just imagine how much I care about that.

Even though I play these games, I don't swing with that Dungeons & Dragons crowd -- too much math, not enough fun in my experience. (Yes: not only do I play the games, I'm a snob about them, too. Discuss.) I've played a lot of games, but the finest, without question, have been those published by White Wolf in their World of Darkness series. Vampire: The Masquerade, Hunter: The Reckoning, Mage: The Ascension. Last year, they ended that series and started anew with Vampire: The Requiem, which has been just has fun as the old stuff.

And since Mage: The Awakening comes out this month, we celebrate my RPG experiences with our list of the week: My Favorite (and Least-Favorite) Non-Player Characters. See, when I've played, I've been the Storyteller almost exclusively -- no player characters for me. And while I know my players have their own personal favorites, I don't think I've ever shared mine. Not to mention those NPCs I've dreaded playing.

So let's get started.

(But before we do, I should point out that several of these characters came in groups and pairs, so they're obviously listed together. You may see this as cheating, to stick more than five characters into a top-five list. I can't disagree. And while I'm in this parenthetical, thanks to Rene for helping me come up with an idea for this week's list.)

The Best

1. Duncan Forrest. (Vampire: The Masquerade; Vampire: The Requiem) Never has one of my characters displayed quite the frantic arc as this poor Ventrue did in En Prise, my final V:tM chronicle. From smug businessman, to ostracized villain, to avenging angel behind a shotgun, to caretaker for a sire-less young vampire, Duncan remained a blast for me. (Hehe: shotgun. Blast. Ha! ...Ahem.) Of course, the arc wasn't just all over the place for no reason: the unlucky bastard had ghosts haunting him and screwing with this mind. And the guilt he carried around with him for his evil deeds -- both those at the urging of the spirits and those he committed of his own volition -- rounded him out and prevented from being just an unpredictable wacko. (Though he was that, at times.) But the most gratifying moment came when I tried to finish him off: I set up the events that would lead to his demise, only to watch as the players ruined everything with a desperate (and successful) attempt to save his life. "There's no way we were going to let Duncan die," I was told. I can't believe I tried it, either.

And surprisingly enough, Duncan didn't lose much in his transition to the world of Vampire: The Requiem -- a sometimes frustrating mix of the political schemer and the guilt-ridden saint, Duncan led the charge against the corrupt vampiric government of Bazemore. Of course, his methods of leadership put him at odds with almost everyone he attempted to lead, but he stayed the course and kept up the fight until the most unlikely possible thing happened: he won. (And they say I don't know the meaning of the word "hope.") But the ghosts still won't leave him alone.

Speaking of ghosts....

2. Alice Johnson. (V:tR) Talk about having it bad. At age eighteen, Alice was brutally murdered in her sleep by a crazed vampire (for reasons too complex to get into here). But instead of passing on, she found herself stuck in our world as a ghost...and unable to leave her apartment. She remained there for nearly two decades -- she was eventually discovered by another vampire, Natasha, but this Kindred was unable (or unwilling) to help her escape. Instead, Alice became a weapon in Natasha's schemes: the ghost somehow caught occasional brief glimpses of the future. Still stuck, Alice contented herself with flexing her supernatural muscles, learning other "powers" and such over the years; she became fascinated with her limited ability to alter the temperature in her apartment (a habit which resulted in the space staying vacant for all those years). But Alice wasn't without hope: help came in the form of Natasha's childe, Benjamin. Unlike Natasha, who saw her as a tool, Ben helped her not only to develop those powers of hers, but eventually found a way to get her out of her apartment and allow her to roam the world as a free spirit.

Man, Alice is just plain fun to play -- she's been eighteen for about forty years now, and even as her power increases, she still straddles that teenaged line between invulnerable cockiness and tormented insecurity. Stubbornly sticking by Benjamin through his own personal travesties, she alternately assists him on his quests and prods him with shiny verbal spears. (Ben once described their feuding relationship as "hate-hate." Alice's response: "Hey, fuck you!") She generally carries herself with a "Who, me?" kind of laid-back attitude...until the shit hits the fan. And what's not to like about a character who is blasting zombies with telekinesis one minute and practically blushing at the clumsy advances of a naive college boy the next? (Another fun aspect to Alice: putting on cleats and stomping all over White Wolf's canon as regards ghosts. I've never taken their it's-your-game-do-what-you-want ethos as far as I have with her.) Add in her fascination/loathing with modern society, her big-sister relationship with Ben's son, her snobbish appreciation/disdain for popular music, and the vast expanse of unspoken emotional territory between Ben and herself, and I could practically write a book about her.

Speaking of practically writing books...

3. Mr. Clarke and Jenkins. (Hunter: the Reckoning) Sure, most mages would want to keep as far away as possible from supernaturally-imbued demon-slayers, especially those as well-armed as the ones in this game. But Mr. Clarke and his vigilant assistant, Jenkins, were not most mages. These two fit into a pretty typical NPC mold -- the questgiver -- but it was their priceless interaction with each other and with the hunters that made them memorable. Mr. Clarke's habit of falling in love with the sound of his voice (talking forever without seeming to say anything) went perfectly with Jenkins, whose main job seemed to be taking notes -- of everything. Jenkins was never armed without his handy notepad, and his pen never stopped moving. It wasn't quite sure what these notes would ever be used for, but that didn't stop Jenkins from writing, nor did it stop Clarke from frequently imploring Jenkins: "Write this down!" I've never enjoyed the obligatory here-is-your-mission scenes as much as I did with these two clowns. Our Hunter game went to shit (literally, and you do not want to hear that story, trust me), but I loved these two guys.

Speaking, fuck it:

4. Harry and Tom. (Mage: The Ascension) Man oh man: the fucking cats.

Harry -- the black one -- was the familiar for adolescent mage Jack Flagg; his nemesis, Tom -- the white one -- hounded Jack as a pesky gremlin. Jack was a good guy, though, so he took care of both cats. Even when Tom was displaying his evil side by...breaking his potted plants?

Credit where credit is due: these guys weren't my idea. But they were some kind of awesome when they got going. The best part, really, was that despite being ancient spirits with a eternal grudge against one another, they were still cats -- talking cats, mystical cats, but cats nevertheless. It's hard to torment your mortal enemy when there's so much napping to do, after all. And I can't forget the hilarious image of Harry, tucked in Jack's pocket, getting a buzz at the local Node. And the good news: they're coming back for our next Mage game. Yeah!

5. Steve, the Drunken Redneck. (Everywhere) Sometimes, you can't plan what will work. And Steve-o started life as nothing more than a random victim: a vampire needed a car, and fast, so Steve got carjacked. But something about him was somehow intriguing, and so Steve showed up again. And again. Traumatized by his experiences, Steve has popped up in every game I've run since, getting more and more wigged out (and more and more drunk) with each appearance. His best moments were probably those in V:tM, with his paranoid ramblings about the secret war between vampires and aliens from outer space. But he never stops being funny. And Steve will never go away.

Tied for sixth: every single other NPC I've used in Vampire: The Requiem. Every single one. Even Malice the dog. Especially Malice the dog. I love that city.

The Worst

1. Jan Pieterzoon. (V:tM) I've never been good at working with other people's creations (the cats notwithstanding). And it was probably a bad idea to trot out this White Wolf signature character for little reason other than, "Hey, he's cool." (Really, his presence was ridiculous.) I'm pretty sure he didn't show up more than once or twice...but someone like Pieterzoon should emanate dignity, should ooze it from the very bottom of his silk suit, and he was nothing more than empty space in my hands. Easily the most disappointing NPC I've ever used. (I later used him again when I ran a Gehenna chronicle, and while it was an improvement, I still never quite got a handle on him. Oh, well. Live and learn.)

2. Fortunado. (V:tM) Dammit: he was made to be interesting. One of the aforementioned ghosts that was mucking with Duncan's brain, Fortunado was a brash, joyous guy that was dead and loved every second of least, when he was in my head. In the game, though, he never seemed to take off. He was supposed to be used for a Wraith chronicle, but when that game went nowhere, I brought him into Vampire with lackluster results. And it didn't help that his arc by that point was as a pretty obvious shock villain -- his "surprise" evil turn was greeted with no reaction at all by the players, and they later selected this as the worst plot twist in the otherwise magnificent En Prise. I'm much better at ghosts nowadays, but this one haunts me. (Hehe: haunts. Ghost. Ha! ...Ahem.)

3. Augustus Giovanni. (V:tM) See entry 1 as far as using White Wolf signature characters. I've had my share of anticlimactic moments in my games, but none can rival this dramatic battle from my Gehenna chronicle. Augustus Giovanni, third-generation progenitor of the Giovanni clan, super-powerful master of Necromancy, slain in a matter of moments by a handful of Kindred far, far weaker than he. That was embarrassing.

4. The other Antediluvians in that same Gehenna game. (V:tM) See entry 3, only multiply by six and replace the embarrassing fighting with lots of talking. Lots of talking. The most dreadful ending to any game I've ever run. Ever. (Of course, it wasn't entirely my fault -- I as running that game right out of the book. But I should have at least tried to make those bastards interesting. I failed to do so.)

5. The entire cast of the infamous "Green Goo" game. (V:tM) Honestly, I can't remember a single character from this mess, the worst chronicle I've ever run. But I can remember how awkward they felt, how they felt like crude cut-outs or imitations of earlier, more successful characters. Actually, I take that back: I remember the idiotic Tremere interrogator with his syringe full of that awful green goo. I was watching way too much X-Files back then, and didn't use any of that influence in a good way. Though I've tried to put this horrible game behind me (thankfully, it ground itself to a shuddering, screeching halt after only three or four sessions), my friends will never let me forget it. Ever.

That's that. You may comment below -- suggestions for next week's list are welcome.

Friday, August 05, 2005

"I'm only interested in playing Pazaak!"

(Listening to: The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan)

Man, I feel like a lazy bastard -- it takes me weeks to write anything at all, but my friend Rene shows me up by writing a computer program to accompany the seventh chapter of his in-progress Star Wars story: it's Pazaak, the covenient take-home version. It's a well-done little program -- it's exactly like the Pazaak you'd find in Knights of the Old Republic. Only with no graphics, or sound, and no customizable sidedeck. And is all that stuff really necessary?

(A voice rises from the back: "Yes!" Thank you, sir. Security!)

I was volunteered to host the file Because I'm a nice guy, I decided to host Rene's file for others to download. Aren't I swell?

Anyway, if you'd like to download the program, you can do so right here. And if you'd like to know how to play Pazaak, you can learn right over here in a how-to written by yours truly.

Enjoy yourselves.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


(Listening to: Dave Matthews Band, Under the Table and Dreaming)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a tenth planet:

Name suggestions? I nominate Minerva. (Of course, there's also Vulcan. Or Romulus. Or Qo'noS. Ferenginar?)

I have also finished the new episode of That's When I Reach for My Revolver. An early review declared that it was "good." How about that. Enjoy yourself.